Free Writing Contests for Middle schoolers

City Weekend Parents & Kids

Writers of all ages need an audience. And what better way to gain one than to enter a writing contest? It’s so satisfying when a child receives a reward for his writing—whether it’s a cash prize, a special gift, or simply a chance to get published.

So why should you encourage your kids to enter a writing contest? Here are three important reasons.

1. Writing Contests Provide Boundaries

Most students need—and work well within—boundaries. Writing contests provide strict limits in the form of deadlines, word count, and subject matter.

  • Deadlines: Students, particularly teens, need to begin the practice of working within time limits, as they’ll face all sorts of deadlines throughout high school and college. Contest deadlines help them pace their writing so they can develop, write, and proofread the piece with time to spare.
  • Word count: Writing contests usually have some sort of word limit. Cutting a story or essay down to its most essential core will result in a tighter composition. It takes skill to whittle away excess verbiage in order to make every word count, but it’s a skill well worth developing.
  • Subject matter: Because most contests ask for a specific kind of writing—a short fictional story, a patriotic piece, or a poem, for example—students get to fine-tune their skills and focus their writing while practicing with a variety of themes. Writing on a given topic, even if it doesn’t especially interest them, is good practice for future writing assignments. Students won’t always have a choice, and practicing with different genres broadens their base of writing experiences.

2. Writing Contests Provide An Audience

When your child enters a contest, he is writing for two audiences: real and intended.

  • Real audience: These are the people who will read and/or judge the poem, essay, or story.
  • Intended audience: These are the people your student’s composition aims to address. They could be children, teenagers, elected officials, senior citizens, young mothers, homeschoolers, etc.

Now that you’re convinced writing contests are great opportunities for your kiddos, take care to guide them in the right direction by finding appropriate contests and steering clear of scams and rip-offs.

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Shandy Lawson talks Fiction Locker, a writing website for teens  — Hypable
I can't answer as many of those questions as I'd like, so I thought if I put all of those answers in one place, along with stuff like regular flash fiction contests, writing prompts and featured columns by guest authors, I might be able to create a ..

Q&A

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What are some writing contests for middle-schoolers (grades 6-8)?

Hi! I love to write stories and poems, and I am quite good at writing them. I was wondering if anyone knew of any writing contests for me to enter. I live in Massachusetts in the Plymouth county and I am in middle school. There can be an entry fee but it should not exceed 20 dollars. Doesn't matter to me if there is an award or not though.
xoxoxox
Thanks!

contests are usually free to enter. Your best bet is to ask your language teacher or go to the library and ask if they might know of any. I know the library in my area actually runs a contest for writing books and the winners actually get them bound into an actual book.

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How do I teach middle-schoolers how to write poetry?

If all else fails: outsource. 
When I was in middle-school, we had a poet come to work with our class as part of a "Poet in Residence" program.  It was amazing.  I'm sure our teacher could have taught us the same fundamentals, but having an expert who really felt the poetry was fascinating.
If poetry's not your thing, then find someone (friend, teacher, poet) who could come in and jump start the class with a presentation, or help polish a poetic writing project. It could be very inspiring.